Joanna Pearl has been shining lately. The California singer-songwriter just made a high-profile appearance on Chicago’s single The Mermaid (Sereia Do Mar), lending her sweetly flowing background vocals to the jazz-rockers’ bossa nova about a shipwrecked sailor saved by a siren of the deep. She has performed with former Free bassist Andy Fraser, and co-wrote the holiday single I Want U On Christmas, recorded by Guinness World Record-holding Canadian popster Capri Everitt. Pearl also sings with the 10-piece soul-funk show band SoulCal, whose horn-bolstered sound draws on a lengthy list of classic outfits like Tower of Power, Average White Band and (yes) Chicago. On top of all that, she recently released the solo single and video I Am Woman. Her one flaw: Agreeing to take a run at my silly questions. Here’s how it went:
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and any other details you’d care to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
My name is Joanna Pearl and I have had 37 anniversaries on Earth. I’m a professional international award-winning singer-songwriter and I live in Temecula, California. I have lived in the Temecula Valley since I was 4 years old. However, I have traveled to other states and countries. I’m a fur-mama of 5 (3 dogs and 2 cats; my oldest dog is 17 years old!). I’m 5’8″. Size 10 shoe (I know BIG). According to Ancestry.com, I am 43% Sri Lankan. I have no tattoos. I have a pierced nose and ears. I’m allergic to banans. My sign … well, I’m a little bit of everything … Leo-Virgo and Scorpio rising!
What is your musical origin story?
I didn’t choose the game, the game chose me lol … I’ve have been in love with music all of my life. From being too shy to sing in front of anyone and having shower concerts, to joining choir (with my high school counselors’ encouragement) to auditioning for numerous singing shows, to finally finding “home” with my mentor Thomas Barsoe, I truly feel like I live up to my name “Pearl” — taking my sweet time to open up. Honestly, I think it all started when my mom put the radio under my crib lol It’s all her fault hahahaha
What’s your latest project?
I just had the immense honor to sing on the new Chicago album Born For This Moment — on track 10, The Mermaid. Besides pinching myself from that project, we’re working on the new single due out in October. There are a couple other things going on behind-the-scenes that are pretty significant, but I can’t share those yet.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
The obvious, I’m not a teenager (thank god) which means my songwriting has much more depth. I’m half Sri Lankan — the only other one I know of is M.I.A. and well, she is literally MIA. I’m loud! I have a big voice. But above all, I feel my purpose is bigger than me and that my “why” is people. Meaning, my job is to feel all the things and then turn that into something to help someone.
Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played.
The first song I wrote was never released. I wrote it for a competition. It’s called Who I Am and it’s about not knowing my Dad. My co-writer was adopted, as well, so obviously this was an emotional song.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you have given?
Well, one of the first times I was on stage was in fifth grade for the Canyon Lake Pageant. I was doing all right up until I had a speech to give and I completely bombed! Started crying and ran off stage vowing NEVER to get on stage again … we see how that went though lol.
What living or dead artists would you like to collaborate with?
Aretha, for sure. Mariah. Carole King. Trisha Yearwood. Garth Brooks. Babyface. Celine. Whitney. Wynonna Judd. Dolly Parton. John Mayer. There are too many … everyone I have ever admired.
What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I love rap music — but not like the really hardcore stuff. I have such admiration for individuals who can create such vivid pictures in your mind and the stories they tell and how fast they can say them. Their brains are like super computers!
What words do you hope people use when they describe you?
Strong, thoughtful, creative, ambitious, successful, humble, kind.
Who can you do an impression of?
I didn’t really know this until I was hired for the RuPaul Drag Race Show, but I can do Mariah, Janet, Patti Labelle, Celine Dion … sometimes Britney.
Tell us a joke.
What did the popcorn say when it came out of the microwave? I’m corn-fused! (You can thank my grandma Joan for that one)
What do you collect?
Teapots and Starbucks cups (I’m literally laughing at myself right now), and of course pearl jewelry.
If money was no object, where would you live?
My main residence would be in Temecula, but I would buy a piece of land and build my house and my friend Alan Rodrick-Jones would design it with me. I would also have a house on the coast and in the mountains.
What are your pet peeves?
Bad breath and when people breathe weird.
What are you afraid of?
If I tell you you have to promise to never use it against me! Spiders, snakes, sharks!
What’s your motto?
Live With Purpose.
What’s always in your refrigerator?
Eggs. The perfect protein.
What’s the silliest thing you believed as a child?
I never stopped believing heehee
What was your favourite class in school and why?
I always loved my science classes.
What’s the best and / or worst advice you were ever given?
Best advice: Write when you are in the midst of the emotion. Stop everything and capture it.
Worst advice: Stay still and the bee won’t sting you (hahahaha LIES)